Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ruffed grouse burrow beneath the snow at night

grouse in winter
grouse burrow

I just snapped these pix on a snowshoe walk with Brenda. We saw this ruffed grouse or partridge at a distance. They are really spooky here on our property in Nolalu. At camp you can nearly pick them up. Local people refer to them as "chickens."

That's not the case in Nolalu. They usually flush 20 yards ahead of you.

The second photo shows a grouse "burrow." This is where a grouse spent the night -- burrowed beneath the snow. They actually fly right into the snow, then wiggle through it a bit. The next day they wiggle upwards and take off, as seen where the wings struck the snow in the photo. There are never any telltale tracks leading into or away from the burrow.

Every grouse will do this burrowing if the snow is deep enough. It is much warmer under the snow than above.

They're pretty good at hearing you come near and will explode out of the snow while your heart goes into cardiac arrest. I think they get a big kick out of it!

Unfortunately, red fox don't make as much sound and sometimes nab the grouse right in their sleeping chamber.

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